Desolation Sound, January 2-7 2023

CPS

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I started the new year off with a trip up to Desolation Sound with two friends. The first thing to do was to load all the kayaks and gear into my little vehicle, which required a minor modification of the roof racks.

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We left very early in the morning so we could catch the various ferries and end up launching from Lund in the early afternoon. The kayaks used for this trip were my Stellar 18 Expedition, my Necky Looksha IV - used by Maddy, and the Stellar 18 R from the shop borrowed by Rylan.
The weather forecast was a bit troubling, gale winds forecast to continue through our entire trip.

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Given a relatively late start and the short days we headed up to the Copeland Islands for our first camp. We chose North Copeland as it just looked nice.

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The winds picked up overnight and our departure from our first site was a little bumpy, but manageable. Maddy was our least experienced paddler and she handled herself very well in the small chop and low swell.
Our second day would entail an exploration of Okeover Inlet, as we made our way down to the Grace Harbour site. We stopped at Hare Point for lunch, but it didn't really appeal to us so we pushed on.

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There are only 2 tent pads at Grace Harbour, but I was able to pitch my tent without too much issue on a mossy area. That evening we had the first of our shared dinners. Maddy had prepared a fabulous vegan stew which included morel mushrooms she had foraged. Delicious!
Our next day we had debated paddling up Lancelot Inlet and seeing if the landowner at Portage Cove would be tolerant of us crossing the narrow bit of land, but a discussion with the residents of Grace Harbour led up to believe that was likely a no-go. Various descriptive terms were used that convinced us that he would not be persuaded.
So we headed back out the way we came, and paddled down the coast toward our next campsite at Curme Islands.

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This site was easily my favourite. A nice sheltered area between the islands was a playground for curious seals, always popping up to watch what we were doing. For dinner Rylan prepared a nice spicy soup with grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough featuring slices of seared pears. No complaints!

On the following day we set out in a bit of wind and drizzling rain and paddled over towards Prideaux Haven. As we worked our way through the islands we were treated to a glimpse of sun and a gorgeous rainbow.

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After a quick break for snacks we paddled our way out of the islands and crossed toward West Redona island and started working our way along the coast. We were either going to stay at Martin Islands or preferably Kinghorn. Maddy hadn't slept well and was feeling a bit bushed so we set up a two person tow. Rylan and I, in 18 foot fast kayaks put our heads down and embraced the challenge. We cruised along at a good clip, with Maddy helping as she could. We had a small pod of porpoises swim parallel to us for a few hundred meters. A few hours and 11km later we landed at the site on Kinghorn just before dark. The site was wet and dark, and I could tell morale was growing low.

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A tarp was rapidly set-up, allowing a bit of salvation from the rain as we set up our tents. As the other two were in their tents I turned the tarped area into a flurry of cooking activity! Tofu was fried until crispy and browned, then freshly chopped onion, broccoli and pepper went into the pan, along with a few packets of soy sauce and sriracha from previous take out dinners. I pulled those from the pan and cooked up a few packets of Udon noodles with flakes of dehydrated kimchi. A true asian fusion dish was born. Gathered under the tarp, eating fresh vegetables and sitting around a tiny little fire in a can, morale was lifted anew.
After dinner snacks were brought out, crackers and cheeses, pita chips, chocolates. We retired to bed full and contented.

The next day we paddled from Kinghorn back to the Copelands, this time stopping at Middle Copeland. The wind and waves which had largely been absent for the last few days had materialized, and the crossing was made cautiously but without incident. Maddy has a good head for waves and handled the swell very well!

Our site was nice, and we gathered under the tarp for a late lunch/ early dinner.
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We decided we would pack up early to try to shorten the amount of time we would spend waiting for ferries on the way back. The wind howled loudly all night and none of us slept very well. But caffeinated and eager we set off the next morning, punching through a solid headwind on our way back to Lund.

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On the way back I spotted a small set of petroglyphs on the rocks. A face, a salmon, and a jellyfish, perhaps?

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Then it was time to pack up the car for a long, stinky, car ride back home. A great way to start the year and I hope there are many more trips to follow!
 

AM

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Wonderful report — you guys eat well!

Re: Hare Point — what were they thinking??

Cheers,
Andrew
 
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kayakwriter

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Great report. That whole area is one of my favourites, but I've never done (so far) off-season.
Also, that's one beautiful boat you have. And I notice the Hubba-Hubba is practically becoming a standard issue tent for sea kayakers (I'm on my third!)
 
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SalishSeaNior

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Thanks for the wonderful trip report and beautiful imagery CPS. Desolation Sound is such a large, diverse and special place to paddle. The southern end where you paddled on this trip is wonderful, especially in the off season.

Happy New Year and wishing you and everyone else on the forum many happy days on the water in 2023.
 
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CPS

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Wonderful report — you guys eat well!

Re: Hare Point — what were they thinking??

We were having a bit of a competition since on a past trip someone talked up their cooking game only to make one of the worst things either of us have eaten. All have been redeemed.

Hare Point. 17 tent pads, a pretty meh landing site. Just not for me. I suppose in summer it would be sunny, but looks like it would be a gong show.

Great report. That whole area is one of my favourites, but I've never done (so far) off-season.
Also, that's one beautiful boat you have. And I notice the Hubba-Hubba is practically becoming a standard issue tent for sea kayakers (I'm on my third!)

We were actually using the MSR Elixir. Not quite as nice as a Hubba-Hubba, but pretty darn good. I actually opt not to use the tent body most of the time, instead using just the fly as a sort of framed tarp/single wall tent.

Thanks for the wonderful trip report and beautiful imagery CPS. Desolation Sound is such a large, diverse and special place to paddle. The southern end where you paddled on this trip is wonderful, especially in the off season.

It sure was a treat to have it all to ourselves. We saw maybe 10 boats in 5 days, and almost all from a considerable distance.
 
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CPS

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Nicely done. The Curme Islands site looks truly lovely.

It was a real treat. There's a large hill which was a great place to take in the views and process the day. As with most of these places, they probably lose a bit of majesty when stuffed full of other campers. But that's why I went in January...
 

cougarmeat

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Great Report and inspiring cooking. I'm a vegetarian. One of my paddling partners is a vegan. Somehow we make it work. When we go on paid adventures, we've noticed that the food choices don't quite match. Others get tuna casserole; we get peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Except when they serve pizza. Then we have to get there first because even though there is plenty of meat pizza, the folks seem to gravitate to the "vegetable" one.

Camp cooking is my weakest area. I tell folks I don't eat plainly (oatmeal with freeze-dried fruits or meals in a pouch) out of preference. It's because of a lack of imagination.

I'm glad Maddy let you give a tow. I've been with people who consider it a matter of pride that they don't accept a tow. They do not realize the safety element as we spend more time in an area it's best to get out of quickly - be it a crossing, lumpy waters, or getting to a campsite early enough to setup in daylight.

So your post inspired places to visit and perhaps a more interesting menu on adventures. Thank you.
 

CPS

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Managing different dietary requirements is always tough. I've got IBS so generally try to make my own meals or avoid anything too exotic on a regular basis.

I've found a few easy to prepare vegetarian options in the health food store. The daiya mac and cheese are pretty decent as far as pseudo cheese goes.
I eat meat but get a fair amount of vegetarian or vegan options because they have less (or no) milk ingredients. A little handful of precooked bacon elevates a bleh mac and cheese to a pretty satisfying meal.

I also experimented with what I'm calling a pizzadilla. Essentially a flour tortilla with pizza sauce, toppings and cheese (or cheese-esque product) fried up in the skillet as one would a quesadilla. That was a real nice treat. Hot grease and crunch on a cold day.

As is typically the case I brought a bunch of home dried meals that I didn't end up eating. One that I was looking forward to was a homemade instant noodle. Using some soy ramen that I found at Costco there's a decent bit of protein, and I usually add some dried kimchi pieces, dried shitake mushroom, and other little bits.

Living in the lower mainland I'm pretty spoiled for Asian markets. They're a great option to check out for different instant or easy to prepare meals.
 
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AM

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I also experimented with what I'm calling a pizzadilla. Essentially a flour tortilla with pizza sauce, toppings and cheese (or cheese-esque product) fried up in the skillet as one would a quesadilla. That was a real nice treat. Hot grease and crunch on a cold day.

This is a go-to for me. I use Don Pancho tortillas, Tex-Mex cheese, and salsa. Fried to a crisp in olive oil...yum. Super easy.

Cheers,
Andrew
 
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pryaker

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Mar 23, 2010
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Powell River BC
Hey, nice trip report! It's always good to see a new viewpoint of one's "home turf". I definitely agree that off season is the best (only for us) time to travel in DS. The designated sites only rule is a major turn off for me and don't get me started about the year round fire ban. That's a good reason to camp on Kinghorn, it's outside the park. I'd have had a big fire going that night, nothing like a fire to improve morale!
 
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eggabeewa

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Nice report. Re hare pt. It has a lot of sites but I agree that it is nothing special. However, it is a convenient stopping point if doing a late start out of okeover. And grace harbour sites are limited. It's one redeeming attribute is that you can hike to the nearby lake for a fresh water swim.
 
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ChrisPoteetPdx

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That was a delightful and inspiring report. I will use your photos as a tutorial. I don't have the gift. And that madrone tree close up; looks like an alien! I love it.
 
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kayakwriter

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I eat meat but get a fair amount of vegetarian or vegan options because they have less (or no) milk ingredients. A little handful of precooked bacon elevates a bleh mac and cheese to a pretty satisfying meal.

Even as a confirmed omnivore who loves me some steak or ribs, I've been pretty happy using TVP: Textured Vegetable Protein - a dried granular foodstuff that keeps without refrigeration. Find it in health food stores or the health food aisle of larger regular grocery stores. Any place you'd use ground beef - spaghetti sauce, sloppy joes, taco fillings - TVP will work fine texture-wise and will take on the flavours of whatever you mix it up with.
 

CPS

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I used be able to find it everywhere but now not so much. Last time I bought some was at a Bulk Barn if I recall correctly. With enough flavouring (and suspension of disbelief) it can be anything you'd like.
 

kayakwriter

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I used be able to find it everywhere but now not so much. Last time I bought some was at a Bulk Barn if I recall correctly. With enough flavouring (and suspension of disbelief) it can be anything you'd like.
I haven't been there in a while since we're in Richmond rather than East Van now, but possibly Famous Foods?
 
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AlphaEcho

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Quadra Island, BC
Awesome photos!

Feeling very encouraged to do some winter paddling to these sites. Definitely better without having to jockey for landing/launching space.
 
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